Comforting a Friend After Exam Failure: 15+ Helpful Things to Say

In A-Level, GCSE, General by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Unfortunately, exam pressure can sometimes just get too much. This means that some students don’t end up doing as well as they wanted to, possibly even failing an exam. If you do fail an exam, you shouldn’t beat yourself up. It also isn’t wise to tell someone else off if they fail an exam. Instead, it’s best for you to be supportive. You should just listen to their worries and offer some comforting words.

If you want to get a good idea about some supportive things you could say to somebody who has failed an exam, check out the rest of this article to prepare yourself for if you ever get into this situation.

1. ‘You will get through this.’

This is one of the most important phrases you should tell your friend. They need to be reminded that the guilt and sadness they are feeling will not last forever.

Perhaps remind them of times they have gotten through failure previously. Tell your friend how great and strong they are, capable of getting through any challenge thrown at them.

You need to convey certainty in your voice when you say this. Show your complete belief and faith in your friend that they are strong enough to get through this failure.

2. ‘Exams are not the only things that matter.’

As a student, it is common to get wrapped up in exams. Some students end up thinking that exams are the only things that matter!

This can seem especially true during exam season. However, you need to remind your friend that this is not the case at all.

Remind them of everything else that they are good at, such as hobbies and remind them of their best qualities.

If you or your friends end up failing exams, don’t worry! You can always retake them if you want to. Check out this article from Think Student to discover jobs you can do without having any GCSEs.

3. ‘Talk me through your exam.’

Sometimes, the best thing to do as a friend is to listen. Be an ear to your friend and a shoulder for them to cry on.

They may want to vent to you and tell you where in the exam it all went wrong. You probably won’t need to talk much. You just need to show that you listen and you care.

In this way, your friend will be able to get the worries off their chest and will feel that they have support from you. Make sure to be sympathetic and nod encouragingly.

Try and not interrupt your friend as they vent to you.

4. ‘Failing one exam is not the end of the world.’

Some students think that failure is the worst thing that could happen. If you are a perfectionist, like me, you may identify with these students.

Tell your friend this and remind them that failure is actually an opportunity for new learning. Rather than an ending, it is actually a beginning!

Remind your friend of everything else that they should be proud of. Failing an exam will be insignificant to all of those things!

5. ‘Let’s go for a walk.’

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to get some fresh air. Leave the place where the exam was taken to get rid of all of that bad energy.

It would be good to go and see some nature. However, even if you don’t have access to this and can only stroll through a city, this is just as good!

Stretching your legs always makes somebody feel better. Get your friend laughing during the walk and try and cheer them up.

6. ‘Everybody fails sometimes.’

It can be useful to remind somebody of this fact. Often, when someone fails, they believe that this only happens to them.

Obviously, this is not the case at all! Remind them of people that you both know who may have failed before. Bring in your own experiences of failures and show your friend that they are not the only one.

After all, people fail every day!

7. ‘Have you learnt anything from this experience?’

It is best to ask this question after you have done everything you can to comfort your friend and they feel a little better. Show your friend that this failure could actually be helpful to them.

You can discuss what your friend may have done wrong during the exam. Perhaps they didn’t prepare properly or just got too panicked.

Once you have found this out, you could think of some strategies together which could help your friend get ready for the next exam.

8. ‘Don’t let this failure get you down.’

Failing an exam can play on a student’s mind for not only days, but also weeks! This can prevent them from enjoying life and socialising, especially if they failed an important exam.

Persuade your friend to try and not dwell on the negatives of failing their exam. Tell them to try and focus on the positives of other aspects of their lives.

If this doesn’t work, then try and distract them. This is because dwelling on failure could actually result in more failure in the future.

9. ‘Exams do not define you.’

As already stated, most students believe that exams are the most important things during school. This is obviously, completely ridiculous.

Remind your friend of how great they are and how they are worth much more than a grade on an exam paper. This grade may only reflect how much they have revised or could just be a result of an exam panic.

Tell them that this grade doesn’t equate to their brilliance. It may not even equate to their intelligence!

10. ‘I have some strategies to help you.’

After your friend has calmed down and you have talked through what went wrong with them, perhaps give some of your own tips for exams.

Help them prepare for their next exam, by maybe offering revision and relaxation strategies. If you want to discover some useful revision tips, check out this article from Think Student.

11. ‘Do you want to do something this weekend?’

Sometimes, the best thing to do to deal with failure is to forget about it for a while. This is especially true if your friend is very distressed after the exam.

Ask them what plans they have for the weekend. If they don’t have any, start to make a plan together. Try and think of a fun activity, perhaps one you have never done before!

12. ’What has been your biggest achievement?’

When a student fails, they will often only focus on this and forget about anything else they have done successfully in life.

Sit with your friend and recall together all of the different things your friend has done. This could be anything, from completing a Duke of Edinburgh award to winning a race on sports day.

Remind them that they have achieved so much in life. This means that one failed exam is insignificant compared to everything else.

13. ‘One day, you will look back at this time and laugh.’

It is always good to remind someone of this. When a student fails, they often only live in the here and now, dwelling on the negative.

However, it can be good to get them to think of the future. Tell them about all of the achievements they are going to have accomplished in the future.

When they look back in a couple of years’ time, this exam failure will be completely insignificant!

14. ‘Do you know how many successful people have failed miserably?’

You have probably heard about all of the famous people in life who often failed in their career pursuit. Some famous faces include Walt Disney and J.K. Rowling.

These two people achieved great success in life. However, they failed so many times before! Remind your friend of this to show them that this failure could actually lead on to bigger and even better things.

15. ‘You are brilliant.’

It is a great idea to boost a student’s self-esteem after failing an exam. They will probably be feeling pretty bad about themselves.

A heartfelt compliment may not seem like much but it can go a long way. Remind them of how great they are to try and cheer them up.

If you want to find some inspirational quotes to motivate you or your friend to help with exams, check out this article from Think Student.

16. ‘I am always here for you.’

It is always good to remind your friend of this. Failure can be a scary thing and can often make students feel very alone.

However, reminding them that they always have someone to talk to can make them feel more supported. They may not feel as bad and having you there could provide them with the strength needed to tackle the next exam.

Hopefully this list has given you some guidance on how to help a friend out who may have failed or done badly on an exam. Remember to empathise with them and show your sympathy.

Make sure that you don’t show any negativity or make fun of them. When a student fails an exam, they are extremely vulnerable.

Therefore, just make sure that you are there for them and give them all of the support that you can.

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